San Diego Establishment Must Be in Shock at How Poorly Measure C Is Doing

by on November 9, 2022 · 16 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach, San Diego

There is some anguish in the office towers of the city today, the day after the election, about what is happening in the Midway District.

Indeed, San Diego’s establishment must be in shock at how poorly Measure C is doing. At the most recent vote tabulation, there’s only a 623 vote difference between the “Yes’s” and the “No’s.”

Which is an 800-some vote loss since earlier in the day when the time the San Diego U-T posted its returns. Which means the margin of “victory” is slowly being eroded.

Measure C could actually lose. It’s the measure, of course, that would have eliminated the 30-foot height limit throughout the Midway District, some 1300-plus acres.

The city’s establishment was banking on its passage, which they see as crucial for the go-ahead for Midway Rising to begin their redevelopment of the sports arena area.

In fact, Midway Rising spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on its “Yes on C” campaign, including expensive mailers that misrepresented their own redevelopment project sent through the area. (How is that even legal?)

The elite network of developers, financiers and politicians really expected C to pass — easily. So easily, it seems, that there was no grassroots or “on-the-ground” campaign to ensure its victory. During the last week, a company was hired to nail up “Yes on C” signs around town. But it was a company, not neighbors or community folk.

In sum, San Diego’s establishment really believed Measure C was a cakewalk. They looked at the 2020 vote count of Measure E — an earlier version of C — which passed with a 57% win. Then it was thrown out due to the city’s failure to adequately study the environmental effects of the high-rises being planned. Which led to Measure C being placed on the ballot by the city council.

They felt so secure with that 57% figure from two years ago, that they didn’t mount any kind of real effort, except for interviews by Chris Cate, the termed-out lone Republican on the council, who had — along with Jen Campbell — maneuvered the measure to the ballot by convincing their council colleagues that it was all for the good.

Mayor Gloria was all for it – so the Cate-Campbell sell probably wasn’t that difficult. Gloria’s largest contributor when he ran for mayor was chosen to lead the redevelopment of the sports arena site, Midway Rising. So, it was all set. Measure C would pass, Midway Rising would go to work and visions of 10-story buildings and all that money were dancing in their heads.

But, in a classic David versus Goliath battle, small grassroots groups formed to stop Measure C. One group, Save Our Access, went to court to block C, while another group, a real grassroots group called Keep the Coast 30 took to the streets and internet with a 2-month campaign. The campaign was created to awaken San Diegans to the 50th anniversary of the original 30-foot height limit record vote in 1972, when 63% of San Diego voters passed it.

Other groups also came out in opposition to Measure C, like the Sierra Club, which in a very rare move, took an organizational position on a local initiative and came out solidly against it. A few politicians running for office came out publicly against it, as well. And a few media pundits and columnists took notice of the upsurge of opposition, like Michael Smolens at the U-T and Scott Lewis at the Voice of SD.

Donna Frye, a former city council member, came out against it, and in fact helped to energize Keep the Coast 30 with her early support for the group.

Die-hard activists with Keep the Coast 30 held signs and banners at key intersections and on-ramps during the last several weeks of the election campaign. They braved the wind, the rain and the darkness in their efforts to get the word out to vote “no” on C.

These activists, some of whom have been fighting to preserve the height limit west of I-5 much of their adult lives, have caused this anguish in those lonely office towers today. Plans may have been smashed and all that money spent on consultants gone to waste if in fact C crumbles.

In the end, the voters are smarter than the pols and their consultants about this local matter. And there was a “voter revolt at the coast.”

Perhaps they believed that the Midway was truly part of the coastal zone and deserved to have a community-wide protection.

Perhaps they didn’t believe the lies being spread about Measure C being the panacea for everything from affordable housing to dealing with the houseless to curbing crime and erasing traffic gridlock.

Perhaps they just wanted something better than what the establishment was pushing.



{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Mat Wahlstrom November 9, 2022 at 11:45 am

No less than $675,000 reported so far spent for ‘Yes on C,’ per the U-T.

If buyer’s remorse is overspending to actually get something you regret, what’s the term for basically burning cash and having nothing to show for it but ashes?


Frank Gormlie November 9, 2022 at 2:00 pm



Marc Snelling November 13, 2022 at 10:35 am

Checked SDVote site. My mail-in ballot with no on C hasn’t been counted yet. Voting absentee for 13 years, it’s rare that any race is not a foregone conclusion by the time my vote is counted.


Kathy Blavatt November 9, 2022 at 2:22 pm

Were the money donations to Mayor Gloria included in $675,000 reported?
How much?, or what, are Cate and Campbell getting?, or already given? Does Kate have a job promise as soon as he gets out of office? That seems standard with many former SD Council members.


kh November 9, 2022 at 3:35 pm

The initial count is about 1/2 of total ballots, which is early voting and mail-ins received prior to Tuesday. Measure C was up by a thin margin. That margin is almost evaporated as the Nov 8th in-person ballots are counted. The third phase, is counting the remaining mail-ins that come in over the next few days.
More info here:

Measure C yes/no
50.65/49.35 Nov 8, 9pm
50.35/49.65 Nov 9, 1am
50.15/49.85 Nov 9, 2am

I expect No will surpass 50% by tonight when all the in-person ballots are counted, but the late mail-ins are a wildcard. If it fails by a tiny margin, OBrag and anyone who advocated against it can take credit for the outcome.


unwashedwalmartThong November 9, 2022 at 9:19 pm

So back several centuries during San Diego medieval times, I was married to a lovely princess with rich parents who lived at the very far end of Rosecrans in Pt. Loma. While dating, she kissed me, & I turned from a frog into the handsome ogre I am now. Sixteen thousand times I had to traverse the entire length of Rosecrans from the I-8 off ramp. Sometimes it took me three-four days to get to their house because of the traffic on Rosecrans. One day I showed up with a smile on my face. My father-in-law asked me why I was in such a lovely mood. “Green lights. I just had all green lights on Rosecrans!”
It only happened once.
That happened many years ago, & I now avoid that area almost completely.
What is going to happen if C passes & four million more cars try to park on Rosecrans? I don’t know.
I was thinking that maybe San Diego could add another runway for the airport; run in through the Marine Depot, cross Barnett, Midway & Sports Arena Blvd. Now THAT would bring more jobs, wouldn’t it?!


kh November 10, 2022 at 12:59 pm

The density and traffic impacts were all studied in the EIR during the Midway community plan update in 2018.

Measure C does not further change that density, although it would likely speed up the redevelopment timeline.

The next question is, how much city staff time and resources were spent soliciting and analyzing Sports Arena redevelopment proposals that were in clear violation of the height limit?


retired botanist November 10, 2022 at 3:53 pm

kh,word. This needs to be drilled down on…


kh November 11, 2022 at 12:52 pm

Housing advocates claiming Measure C is needed to convert the warehouse wasteland into housing, and affordable housing… B.S.

Nimbys claming Measure C will destroy the neighborhood with traffic impacts… Also B.S.

Why can’t we debate something based on the facts? It seems more like a competition to see who’s the best liar.


Gary Wonacott November 10, 2022 at 4:50 am

Surprising, given the gravity of the decision that it did not require a 2/3s vote.


Mat Wahlstrom November 10, 2022 at 3:20 pm

That’s been my thought from the beginning. The Coastal Height Limit was a Citizens’ Initiative, put on the ballot by everyday people working door-to-door to gather the signatures needed to bypass the corrupt politicians of their day. The corrupt politicians of our day should never have been allowed to place repealing it up for any vote without having to go through the same level of effort, let alone for a vote of 50% +1.


Zack November 11, 2022 at 10:02 am

Still hanging on! I wonder if the later votes be more favorable to C….


Frank Gormlie November 11, 2022 at 5:10 pm

… And C could pass; it’s now ahead by 3210 votes as of 5pm 11/11.


Zack November 12, 2022 at 12:26 am

I had a suspicion that the later counted votes would skew towards C. A lot of the younger YIMBY types procrastinate and voted right before or on election day (as well as younger people in general). So assuming that’s true then Yes on C may very well continue expanding it’s lead.

I’m a younger YIMBY type and rather than being snarky and revel in a disappointing development for the Rag I’m just gonna say that it sucks when the results don’t go your way and I know how that feels. I’m happy to see C doing well so far and I hope the Rag doesn’t get too disheartened or even cynical about it. Life will go on and we’re all going to be ok


Frank Gormlie November 12, 2022 at 1:35 pm

Zack, thanks. But it ain’t over yet.


Chris November 13, 2022 at 10:00 am

Last I saw on the news yesterday, it was dead even at 50/50. We shall see.


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